Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Belief in America or Just the Bureaucracy

This is a quick take on the plan put forth by Mitt Romney for what he would do as President: Believe In America.

He has the 5 Bills for Day 1... mind you Congress makes and drafts bills, so he is asking Congress to do this for him.  Even if his proposal is just wrapped into a bill, it still has to go through normal vetting in both Houses.  Of course most Congresses dealing with a new President like to give him something early on, and that will usually be the last of it for what a President gets easily.  On to the proposals.

First – Cut corporate income tax rates to 25%.  This is becoming a theme amongst the Republican candidates with John Huntsman proposing something similar.

Second – Implement the negotiated free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.  That is a good thing and requires Senate approval, which would go relatively easily with this President who can still take this one away with a sign of his pen and handing it to Harry Reid.  That he hasn't has shown President Obama's lack of skill at foreign policy, diplomacy and the treaty ratification process which starts with the President and ends in the Senate.

Third - The Domestic Energy Act, and I will give you its talking point directly:

• Directs the Department of the Interior to undertake a comprehensive
survey of American energy reserves in partnership with exploration
companies and initiates leasing in all areas currently approved
for exploration

Notice that this talking point does not look at the role of the EPA and Dept. of Interior or if they should even exist at this point.  If the point had read 'Seeks to disband the EPA, Dept. of Energy, and end the regulatory authority of the Dept. of the Interior on energy concerns and return those to the States' he might have something.  As it is he is still working to keep the regulatory bodies around after they have proven toxic to the Nation's economy via over-reach.  That these agencies can have such power under ANY President is the problem: if we are depending on good nature and kindness from the Oval Office resident, then human nature will leave these powers open to abuse.  The problem lies not with the not granting of leasing permits, but in the US government having any power over them at all.  This is odd because of the next point.

Fourth - The Retraining Reform Act, and again direct verbiage:

• Consolidates the sprawl of federal retraining programs and returns
funding and responsibility
for these programs to the states

If this is such a great idea for 'retraining programs' then how about for determination of energy exploration?  Or why, indeed, does the federal government get involved not only with 'retraining' but 'education' as a whole?  For pointed projects for military affairs there should be some funding to support research, but the entire federal array of spending in this realm is something that belongs at the State level.  Again, why not abolish the Dept. of Education, end all 'retraining' initiatives and then just cut the budget?  The message from 2010 was Stop The Spending, and to this point it hasn't been stopped.

Fifth – A 5% across the board cut to discretionary programs, yielding $20 Billion.  Why not abolish the Dept. of Agriculture and get nearly 4x that amount?  Toss in EPA, Education, Energy, Labor, choice parts of Interior... that would be a massive re-scope in federal power, of course.  That is not what is being proposed.


There are also five Executive Orders that would go out on Day One and those are next.

First – Tell HHS to yield as much authority back to the States for health insurance and prepare to end Obamacare.  Say, why isn't that in a bill on Day One?

Second – Rescind all Obama regulations and cap regulation growth to $0 as to impact on the economy.  Of course if you got rid of the regulatory agencies which have over-reached you could not only get to $0 growth but get some cash back by selling off the property, furnishings and such of the regulatory agencies involved.  That is something a businessman would do – get rid of failing parts of a business and yield any revenue from their remains that he can get.  Oh, sorry!  I though Romney was a businessman...

Third -  An Order to Boost Domestic Energy Production and direct verbiage, again, boldface is mine wherever seen:

Directs the Department of the Interior to implement a process for rapid
issuance of drilling permits
to developers with established safety records
seeking to use pre-approved techniques in pre-approved areas

The federal government has proven to be the PROBLEM in issuing permits, particularly Interior and EPA.  How about just asking for those powers and regulatory organizations to be abolished and let the States figure it out for themselves as they have a good set of procedures for near shore drilling and the ability to craft good policy for their State and its concerns?  But that would be federalism at work.  Can't have that!

Fourth – A Romney hobby-horse is China and seeking sanctions against it for violating our trade agreements with it.  He could, of course, just rip up the agreement and be done with it.  Mind you, this is a guy who's company (or one of the arms of Bain) was in bed with Huawei which was seeking to muscle in on encryption technology.  Yes, his hand-picked man was running the company, but Mr. Romney was the owner of it, so that makes things look a bit interesting as to his beef with China.  He could propose a three tier system of Free Trade with Nations that are our friends and that offer protections of the rights of their citizens from abusive government, normal trade relations with any government that is neither hostile nor friendly and offers at least some protections to their citizens, and no trade for those Nations that are hostile to us and seek to abuse the rights of their own people.  You know, something simple that makes the position of the US clear and understandable with regards to Free Trade and human rights?

Fifth – And then there is this one, An Order to Empower American Businesses and Workers, and verbiage:

• Reverses the executive orders issued by President Obama that tilt the
playing field in favor of organized labor, including the one encouraging
the use of union labor on major government construction projects

Great as far as it goes.  Note that the Dept. of Labor and NLRB isn't addressed in this.  He will address one of them later in the additional back-up material.  On p.4 he has a Labor Policy area and I'll give that one to start looking at the underpinnings of how Gov. Romney thinks government should be run:

Mitt Romney will protect the worker rights and employer flexibility crucial to innovation, economic growth, and job creation. As president, Romney’s first step in improving labor policy will be to ensure that our labor laws create a stable and level playing field on which businesses can operate. This means he will appoint to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) experienced individuals with a respect for the law and an even-handed approach to labor relations. Rather than seek to impose his own vision for the future of labor law via executive fiat and bureaucratic subterfuge, Romney will take the conservative approach and work with Congress to amend the outdated portions of the existing statutory framework, setting it on a stronger footing appropriate to contemporary conditions.

Specifically, Romney will seek amendments to the National Labor Relations Act that protect free enterprise, free choice, and free speech. The Act must be amended to ensure that it does not allow the NLRB to constrain companies in their investment decisions, as the NLRB is attempting to do in the Boeing case. It must also be amended to guarantee workers the right to receive full information about the pros and cons of unionization and then express their own preference in the privacy of the voting booth. And it must put an end to the undemocratic practice of allowing unions to deduct money directly from worker paychecks and spend it on political causes with which the workers may disagree.

How about just abolishing the damned thing?  Not just the NLRB but the Dept. of Labor, both, as the States were dealing with things pretty well before these things were created.  And if you want to protect Constitutional rights, then you take the abusers to court, which means States have to make sure that everyone is treated equally, and the federal government has a lovely Congress to make sure that it can be constrained so as not to utilize any discretion when awarding contracts.  Wouldn't that be a novel idea?  Get rid of abusive agencies, hand power back to the States and then seek to have discretion removed by Congress so that abuse on the part of a President or an Agency can be taken to court.  Why, that is almost novel!  Do note, that is not what Mitt Romney is proposing.  He trusts the power and authority of the bureaucracy and thinks that all it takes is electing good people to the position of President because, you know, we would never elect someone who would abuse that power.


Oh, wait a sec... that is exactly what his proposal is addressing and he is not dealing with the root of the problem but, instead, trimming the noxious weed back a bit but leaving it in place.  If you are noticing a decided lack of distrust of bureaucracies and how they work at the federal level, then you are starting to get a feel for Mitt Romney's proposal.

Let's take a look at the part on 'human capital' right next to the labor policy area:

Mitt Romney sees two important objectives that America can pursue immediately to build on the extraordinary traditional strengths of its workforce. The first is to retrain American workers to ensure that they have the education and skills to match the jobs of today’s economy. The second is to attract the best and brightest from around the world. As president, Romney will focus retraining efforts on a partnership that brings together the states and the private sector. He will consolidate federal programs and then block grant major funding streams to states. Federal policy will be structured to encourage the use of Personal Reemployment Accounts that empower workers to put retraining funds to efficient use and that encourage employers to provide on-the-job training.

Romney will also press for an immigration policy that maximizes America’s economic potential. The United States needs to attract and retain job creators from wherever they come. Romney will raise the ceiling on the number of visas issued to holders of advanced degrees in math, science, and engineering who have job offers in those fields from U.S. companies. Romney will also work to establish a policy that staples a green card to the diploma of every eligible student visa holder who graduates from an American university with an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering.

I have some bad news for Mitt Romney: the job of President of the United States is NOT about bringing States and the private sector together.  Sorry, that is up to the States to decide.  But as he is the one in control of the cash stream via Block Grants, why, he gets to do that!  Isn't government wonderful?  Hand cash over to people and then get to tell them how to utilize it!  Why its so... Progressive!  And then he will help make individual accounts to make sure the federal government can 'help' individuals.  Gee, isn't that swell of him?

I'm all for the part of attracting the best & brightest.  Make sure they don't feel as if they are going to get shafted by having to go through all the legwork while illegals get offered some sweet amnesty, ok?  And Gov. Romney might want to take a look at closing the borders to the undocumented, illegal workers coming into the US so that Americans don't have to compete at the low end against them.

Now to back up to energy policy on p.3:

Mitt Romney will pursue an energy policy that puts conservative principles into action: significant regulatory reform, support for increased production, and a government that focuses on funding basic research instead of chasing fads and picking winners. Romney will streamline federal regulation of energy exploration and development so that the government acts as a facilitator of those activities instead of as an obstacle to them. He will create one-stop shops and impose fixed timelines for standard permits and approvals, and he will accelerate the process for companies with established safety records seeking to employ approved practices in approved areas.

Under this robust and efficient regulatory framework, Romney will significantly expand the areas available for energy development—including in the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf, Western lands, and Alaska. He will also strengthen partnerships with Canada and Mexico to expand opportunities for American companies in the development of those nations’ resources. And he will encourage continued development of unconventional reserves like shale gas and oil that hold enormous promise for expanding the base of U.S. reserves.

You know all of that could be significantly accomplished by getting rid of federal 'oversight' in these areas.  And to make things even sweeter he could divest the US government of the land it has grabbed in energy rich areas and hand those back to the States, as well, so that some States can see some active revenue coming from their land via land taxation.  And that would mean less cost to Interior as it wouldn't have so much land under its belt to 'administer'.  Plus get rid of any potential abuse by an future President to do fun things with manipulating the energy supply of the Nation and put that back in the hands of the States where it belongs.

What I see here in this lovely plan, is a misplaced trust in government power and bureaucracies to do 'good'.  The role of the federal government is to apply equal application of the law, not tilt it towards Unions or towards business, but to apply it equally and fairly to all Americans so that any taken to court get a level playing field there.  That would mean recognizing that things done locally be it training, education, energy production, anything not handed in the Constitution to the federal government, belongs with the States and the people.  That we not only trust in God, but we then place trust in ourselves to hold our government accountable at the most local of levels where our power as citizens is at its strongest.  Not with the national government where it is at its weakest.

This plan is written so as to leave the abusive power structure largely in place and continue its drain on the federal government which, in case it hasn't been noticed, is broke.  Not just broken, but running so deep in the red that $20 billion out of $1.6 trillion is not just a bad joke but a mockery of fiscal sanity.

Gov. Romney needs to join the 21st century, as these 20th century style 'solutions' are the sort of thing that got us into this mess to begin with.  And he does not seem to recognize that these powers are misplaced and open to future abuse if the bureaucracies are left intact.  Which they are.  These are not 'solutions' of helping the American people by reducing the size, scope and power of government, but of papering over the massive defects of the government and hoping that a little bit of prosperity will lull people back to sleep about the massive problems our government has with its power.

No comments: